“Where sceptics fail” – Alex J. O’CONNOR

What is scepticism? How do we deal with our own cognitive dissonance? Can veganism ever be justified purely by reason? These are just some of the questions that Alex O’Connor, a.k.a. CosmicSkeptic, has been grappling with on his youtube channel, viewed by over 40 million people, for the past few years. In this interview, Alex O’Connor sits down with the Institute of Art and Ideas to discuss his positions on scepticism, David Hume, veganism, Peter Singer and religion.

Alex O’Connor, also known by his YouTube alias ‘CosmicSkeptic’, is a prolific philosopher, youtuber, public speaker and animal welfare activist. His youtube channel has amassed over 450 000 subscribers and discusses issues relating to free speech, free will, animal rights and the philosophical arguments against religion.

00:00 Intro
00:12 Where does your Youtube channel name come from and what does ‘scepticism’ mean to you?
02:51 Is scepticism in the online community inherently connected to more conservative views?
08:07 What are the limits of scepticism?
11:29 Do you agree with Hume’s solution to the induction problem?
13:30 Does reason have limitis when it comes to adopting moral behaviours such as veganism?
20:21 What is the best way to change people’s moral behaviour towards animal consumption?
24:12 Can and should veganism be equated to religion to affect behaviours if reason alone is insufficient?
27:48 You have talked about the possibility of engineering animals so they wouldn’t feel suffering. What do you make of that?
29:43 How would you resolve a scenario where you find yourself in cognitive dissonance?